Imágenes de páginas

philosophical and theological systems of the Chal- CENT. I. deans, Egyptians, and Syrians."




XL. The Greeks, in the opinion of most writers, The state of were yet in possession of the first rank among the Greece. nations that cultivated letters and philosophy. In many places, and especially at Athens, there were a considerable number of men distinguished by their learning, acuteness, and eloquence; philosophers of all sects, who taught the doctrines of Plato, Aristotle, Zeno, and Epicurus; rhetoricians also, and men of genius, who instructed the youth in the rules of eloquence, and formed their taste for the liberal arts. So that those who had a passion for the study of oratory, resorted in multitudes to the Grecian schools, in order to perfect themselves in that noble science. Alexandria, in Egypt, was also much frequented for the same purpose, as a great number of the Grecian philosophers and rhetoricians dwelt in that city.

XII. The Romans also, at this time, made a shin- At Rome. ing figure among the polished and learned nations. All the sciences flourished at Rome. The youth of a higher rank were early instructed in the Greek language and eloquence. From thence they proceeded to the study of philosophy, and the laws of their country; and they finished their education by a voyage into Greece, where they not only gave the last degree of perfection to their philosophical studies, but also acquired that refined wit and elegance of taste, that served to set off their more solid attainments in the most advantageous manner.P None of the philosophical sects were more in vogue among the Romans than the epicureans and

See Jo. Franc. Buddei Introductio in Historiam Philos. Hebræorum; as also the authors recommended by Wolf in his Bibliotheca Hebraica, tom. iii.

P See Paganani Gaudentii Liber de Philosophiæ apud Romanos initio et progressu, in Tertio Fasciculo Nove Collectionis Variorum Scriptarum. Hale, 1717.

CENT. I. the academics, which were peculiarly favoured by PART II. the great, who, soothed by their doctrines into a

In the other nations.

false security, indulged their passions without remorse, and continued in their vicious pursuits without terror. During the reign of Augustus, the culture of polite learning and of the fine arts, was held in great honour, and those that contributed with zeal and success to this, were eminently distinguished by that prince. But, after his death, learning languished without encouragement, and was neglected, because the succeeding emperors were more intent upon the arts of war and rapine, than those more amiable arts and inventions that are the fruits of leisure and peace.

XIII. With respect to the other nations, such as the Germans, Celts, and Bretons, it is certain that they were not destitute of learned and ingenious men. Among the Gauls, the people of Marseilles had long acquired a shining reputation for their progress in the sciences; and there is no doubt, but that the neighbouring countries received the benefit of their instructions. Among the Celts, their druids, priests, philosophers, and legislators were highly remarkable for their wisdom; but their writings, at least such as are yet extant, are not sufficient to inform us of the nature of their philosophy. The Romans, indeed, introduced letters and philosophy into all the provinces, which submitted to their victorious arms, in order to soften the rough manners of the savage nations, and form in them, imperceptibly, the sentiments and feelings of humanity."

See the Histoire Literaire de la France par des Religieux Benedictins. Dissert. Prelim. p. 42, &c.

Jac. Martin, Religion des Gaulois, livr. i. cap. xxi. p. 175.

s Juvenal, Satir. xv. ver. 110.

"Nunc totus Graias nostrasque habet orbis Athenas,

Gallia Caussidicos docuit facunda Britannos,

De conducendo loquitur jam Rhetore Thule."






of public

1. THE great end of Christ's mission was to form a universal church, gathered out of all the nations of the world, and to extend the limits of this The necessity great society from age to age. But in order to this, teachers. it was necessary, first, to appoint extraordinary teachers, who, converting the Jews and Gentiles to the truth, should erect, every where, christian assemblies; and then, to establish ordinary ministers, and interpreters of the divine will, who should enforce and repeat the doctrines delivered by the former, and maintain the people in their holy profession, and in the practice of the christian virtues. For the best system of religion must necessarily either dwindle to nothing, or be egregiously corrupted, if it is not perpetually inculcated and explained by a regular and standing ministry.

ry teachers.

II. The extraordinary teachers, whom Christ Extraordina employed to lay the foundations of his everlasting kingdom, were the x11 apostles, and the LXX disciples, of whom mention has been made above. To these the evangelists are to be added, by which title those were distinguished whom the apostles sent to instruct the nations, or who, of their own accord, abandoned every worldly attachment, and consecrated themselves to the sacred office of propagating the gospel. In this rank, also, we must place those, to whom, in the infancy of the church, the marvellous power of speaking in foreign languages which they had never learned, was commu

See St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians, iv. 11. As also Euseb. Hist. Eccles. lib. iii. cap. xxxvii.

PART 11.

CENT. I. nicated from above. For the person to whom the divine omnipotence and liberality had imparted the gift of tongues, might conclude, with the utmost assurance, from the gift itself, which a wise being would not bestow in vain, that he was appointed by God to minister unto the truth, and to employ his talents in the service of Christianity."

The authority

III. Many have undertaken to write the history of the apostles of the apostles," a history, which we find loaded with fables, doubts, and difficulties, when we pursue it further than the books of the New Testament, and the most ancient writers in the christian church. In order to have a just idea of the nature, privileges, and authority of the apostolic function, we must consider an apostle as a person who was honoured with a divine commission, invested with the power of making laws, of controlling and restraining the wicked, when that was expedient, and of working miracles, when necessary; and sent to mankind, to unfold to them the divine will, to open to them the paths of salvation and immortality, and to separate from the multitude, and unite in the bonds of one sacred society, those who were attentive and obedient to the voice of God addressed to men by their ministry.

The lxx disciples.

[ocr errors]

IV. The accounts we have of the LXX disciples are still more obscure than those of the apostles ; since the former are only once mentioned in the New Testament, Luke x. 1. The illustrations

a 1 Cor. xiv. 22.

w The authors who have written concerning the apostles are enumerated by Sagittarius in his Introduction to Ecclesiastical History, ch. i. p. 2, and also by Buddæus, in his treatise, De Ecclesia Apostolica, p. 674. * See Fred. Spanheim, De apostolis et apostolatu, tom. ii. opp. p. 289. It is not without weighty reasons, and without having considered the matter attentively, that I have supposed the apostles invested with the power of enacting laws. I am sensible that some very learned men among the moderns have denied this power, but I apprehend they differ from me rather in words than in any thing else.

that we have yet remaining, relative to their character and office, are certainly composed by the more modern Greeks, and therefore, can have but little authority or credit. Their commission extended no further than the Jewish nation, as appears from the express words of St. Luke; though it is highly probable, that, after Christ's ascension, they performed the function of evangelists, and declared the glad tidings of salvation, and the means of obtaining it, through different nations and provinces.



form of the

termined by

v. Neither Christ himself, nor his holy apostles, The external have commanded any thing clearly or expressly church not de concerning the external form of the church, and Christ. the precise method, according to which it should be governed. From this we may infer, that the

y These accounts are to be seen at the end of three books, concerning the life and death of Moses, which were discovered and illustrated by Gilb. Gaulminus, and republished by Jo. Albert Fabricius, in his Biblioth. Græc. p. 474.

z Those who imagine that Christ himself, or the apostles by his direction and authority, appointed a certain fixed form of church government, are not agreed what that form was. The principal opinions that have been adopted upon this head may be reduced to the four following; the first is that of the Roman catholics, who maintain, "that Christ's intention and appointment was, that his followers should be collected into one sacred empire, subjected to the government of St. Peter and his successors, and divided, like the kingdoms of this world, into several provinces; that, in consequence thereof, Peter fixed the seat of ecclesiastical dominion at Rome, but afterward, to alleviate the burden of his office, divided the church into three greater provinces, according to the division of the world at that time, and appointed a person to preside in each, who was dignified with the title of patriarch; that the European patriarch resided at Rome, the Asiatic at Antioch, and the African at Alexandria; that the bishops of each province, among whom also there were various ranks, were to reverence the authority of their respective patriarchs, and that both bishops and patriarchs were to be passively subject to the supreme dominion of the Roman pontiff." This romantic account scarcely deserves a serious * See Leon Allatius, De perpetua concens. Eccles. Orient, et Occident, lib. i. cap. ii, Morinus, Exercitat. Ecclesiast. lib. i. Exer. i.

[blocks in formation]
« AnteriorContinuar »